Change is an ever more pervasive phenomenon. In this global world we cross increasingly more boundaries, cultures and belief system. We have expanded our sense of freedom and exponentially increased the range of choices we have. At the same time many of us have become disconnected from a sense of belonging to place, community, and the organizations we work for. The level of complexity and ambiguity created by these conditions are obscuring the path and patterns of change contributing to increasingly more change processes being interrupted, neglected and even abandoned.
The sociologist Arpad Szakolczai captures the impact that the pervasive presence of continuous change has on us in the following way: “Human life is not possible and worth living without some degree of stability, meaning and sense of home. Liminality, [the transformative phase in a transition process] is indeed a source of renewal, a restoration of meaning and the pouring of fresh wine into an old bottle. But if there are no proper “bottles”, the fermenting power is diluted and lost. If everything is constantly changing, then things always remain the same.” (Reflexive Historical Sociology, 2000)
All of us, especially those who are responsible for leading change, are called to understand the process of change. This includes being able to see and read the patterns and rhythm of change as well as it’s enabling and disabling dynamics and tensions. In the Liminal Pathways approach this is referred to as change fluency—understanding the language of change. Change fluency enables us to know and discern how to structure and support the change process at any given time and how to cultivate and focus the dynamic forces and momentum that moves change toward its successful completion. Change fluency is essential to avoid what Arpad Szakolczai refers to as the lack of proper “bottles” needed for the fermentation of change.